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If you’re cheap and you like tools, you’ve likely spent some time browsing yard sales and flea markets looking for a great find. And if you’re computer-savvy, you can also find deals in the tool section of Craigslist, the flea market of the Internet Age. I bought the toolbox pictured above and a table saw for $25 on Craigslist. As with any private purchase, “caveat emptor” is the golden rule — but with some common sense, this free resource can lead you to unexpected tool treasures.

If you’re familiar with RSS feeds, you can make any Craigslist search into a feed. A search for “drill press” in your area will also produce an RSS link on the bottom right of the page — just plug that into your favorite feed reader, and it’ll keep you informed if anything you’re looking for pops up.

So what do you think? Is Craigslist just full of junk and scammers, or have you found some sweet deals? Tell us in the comments.

Craigslist [Main Site]


21 Responses to Hot or Not? Craigslist Tools

  1. McAngryPants says:

    Glowing white hot hot HOT. Yes yes yes, buyer beware. However, if you know what you’re looking for (and know how to save your searches as RSS feeds) there are super deals to be had.

  2. Brian says:


    When I moved into my house and finally had room for a real shop, I looked all over for good deals on equipment. My problem was that I wanted everything all at once, and even if you can find deals the prices add up.

    One day on craigslist I saw an add for “Woodshop-$500.” The person who posted it was the middle-aged daughter of an old toolmonger. She was helping him clean out his house so he could move to a nursing home, and no one in the family wanted this guy’s shop equipment. It included: table saw, jointer, band saw, drill press, full size lathe, router, router table, three workbenches, and boxes and boxes of portable and hand tools–a whole garage worth of equipment–an entire functioning furniture shop. It was worth much much more than $500, but part of the sale was that I took everything (she just wanted someone to clean out the shop). I rented a 26-foot truck and had to do two trips. It took a couple of months to clean and catalog everything (he hadn’t used the tools for a while), but I still feel like I made out like a bandit.

    One of the best parts about it is that I felt good about the transaction – this old guy didn’t have to see his life’s collection of equipment get trashed and I helped a single lady clean out hundreds of pounds of crap from her dad’s house (and gladly paid for the privilege!). Craigslist is awesome.

  3. PutnamEco says:

    Hot, if you know what your looking for and at, what it is worth, and if you live near a big enough city to be listed.

    Not Hot, if your trying to sell your stuff on Ebay.

  4. Zathrus says:

    Definitely hot — but caveat emptor, as always. Freecycle is another good place to check, if you have a list for your local area.

    The one thing I’d definitely stay away from is anything that’s labeled “New in Box” — because they’re either listing it for more than retail (when HD sold all of their brand new aluminum Rigid 2.5 gallon air compressors for $99, they suddenly appeared on CL for $140-180) or you’re paying for stolen goods (gee, why not return it to the store for full price?).

  5. Michael W. says:

    Hot, I buy and sell tools on Craigslist all the time. I wouldn’t have anything shipped though, if it’s not close enough for me to pick up I pass.

  6. Kurt Schwind says:

    Hrm. Luke-Warm. I’m a fan of craigslist, and there are some great deals on there, but they are few and far between. Most of the time you get something listed that’s poorly described and over-valued.

    Example: I was looking to get a 6gal air compressor, so I thought I’d hit craigslist. I looked on there for a couple of mos and it many air compressors were listed, but most of them were very old and only 10-20% less than I could get one for brand new. In the end, I bought a refurb porter cable for LESS than any of the (usable) ones listed on CL. I’m sure if I was just doing a long-term hunt for say a drill press, that CL would eventually come through, but it’s hard to have the patience for that.

  7. nrChris says:

    Hot. Drill press, band saw, table saw, a workbench and a belt sander from CL. Use your brain and you can have some fantastic deals. Same with power tools on eBay, particularly if you are searching for local pickup. I got a new 6″ Ridgid jointer for under $200 because I was willing to drive to pick it up. Saving searchs, both RSS for CL and on eBay can get you there first. Often on the scores it is about who calls first.

  8. Bill Schuller says:

    There are plenty of deals to be had on Craigslist. It is different in every area (I’ve lurked on San Diego, Bay Area and DFW area tool sections as I moved around) but most of the deals are bad. There is a ton of absolute junk people are trying to get rid of. Likewise, there are a bunch of scammers. In DFW specifically, there seems to be a lot of serious trade items up for sale, with appropriately huge price tags (forklifts, bobcats, buried utility locators, etc).

    But there’s gold in all that slag. As Brian mentions, you run into the occasional person who rightfully values the tools as junk they need to get rid of. After all, an unused tool is just taking up space. They’re not looking to wait for bites, they price it to move. This is pretty much all I’m interested in. I purchased a Shopsmith mark IV for $500 from the son-in-law of a gentleman who was moving to an assisted living situation. Yeah there was some light rust on the jointer attachment, but at that price I was glad to put some elbow grease into it.

    I used to enjoy following the entire tool section feed in my RSS reader, but I found it was keeping me out of the shop. I now subscribe to a “bandsaw” search as that’s the next tool I’m looking to add to my shop.

  9. Kelly says:

    Specific RSS feeds on Craigslist are the way to go. I’ve also got a Shopsmith feed set up , although it’ll be a while before I can actually buy one. Another great search to save is the “Materials” section. You’ll see all manner of lumber, stone, brick, doors, windows, mulch, gravel, etc. A lot are project leftovers that people need to get rid of so you can get some good deals.

  10. ToolFreak says:

    Hot, if you live in a major metro area. Otherwise, it’s almost all spam. I try listing stuff on there too (looking to get rid of my barely used Craftsman auto jack for a smaller one), but there aren’t many people looking for this kind of stuff. You’ll get the occasional “garage sale” type of ad with a good deal, but the chance it’s something you want is pretty slim.

  11. Bee says:

    im in NYC area and its all trash or overpriced. seems like amazon usually has better prices.
    I’ve wasted much more time than i saved.


  12. DLone says:

    I answered a CL ad for a Speedglas helmet for $40. I bought the helmet, and the woman who sold it asked if I wanted any other welding stuff. Turns out her boyfriend had decamped leaving her with a bunch of stuff that she just wanted to get rid of. I wound up with a full oxy-acetylene outfit — tanks, cart, regulators, hose, and cutting torch for $75.

  13. false_cause says:

    Hot. As in stolen. Some of the deals are too good to be true.

    But with some prudence and luck, the other hot too.

  14. Dan Lyke says:

    I carefully watch the Craigslist “material” category, and have gotten some gorgeous wood and a nice door off of it. And I watch the “tools” category very closely, but haven’t seen the particular deals I’m waiting for yet.

  15. ambush27 says:

    Good deals are rare but they do exist, just like any other used market. I got a snowblower that barely needed anything to get it running for $40.

  16. monkeyboy says:

    Just a few of the things I’ve gotten off CL:
    Mid ’60 Craftsman Table saw, 4 extensions, Bessemeyer fence & outfeed table $50
    6″ Craftsman Jointer $50
    Craftsman shaper w/box of bits $75
    14″ delta bandsaw $90
    8″ Craftsman radial arm saw with big box of cool attachments $40(jig saw?! grinder?!)
    10″ Craftsman radial arm saw $50
    Mid-sized oxygen & acetylene cylinder set $90
    Marquette engine analyzer/scope $10 w/free Allentronic scope
    Hugh ass grinder, only a couple inches left, might of originally been a 12″ -free
    Hot tank (parts washer) -free
    20 HP riding lawn mower (needed starter) $90
    Pallet jack/6′ lift -free
    2 axle trailer with about 15 engines on it $500, sold 9 of the engines for over $1000
    ’78 2 1/2 ton ford truck w/new bed, good tires & low mile motor $600

    Damn, getting all that stuff was hard work, I need to soak in my:
    Working hot tub -free

  17. Zathrus says:

    Sigh… a few weeks ago I saw an original Shopsmith (1950s vintage) for $300. Today I saw another one (probably same vintage) for $600. Wish I could spring for it, but finances are prohibitive right now for various reasons.

    For those just starting to look at Craigslist — don’t write it off too fast. What’s on there will vary depending on your metro area (duh), but here I RSS’d it for a week, then removed it, then added it back a couple months later. Most of what I see is more pro-oriented, and doesn’t interest me, and I didn’t see a Shopsmith listed for at least 2 months. But every once in awhile I’ll see a major bargain, and I’ve seen a dozen Shopsmiths in the past month (ranging from $300-$2000). And it’s a lot easier than going to garage sales — which just isn’t something I’m going to do with a 4 yr old and 2 yr old in tow.

  18. karen says:

    i’m a total craigslist junkie & it is most definitely hot!!!!!!!! like zathrus says, though, patience is a virtue. it’s not like walking into a store where you can pick up anything you want exactly when you want it. i check it every morning and every evening when i check my email–only take a few minutes and the return on my time investment has been huge so far. my best deal to date is buying an entire kitchen, including 20 cabinets, appliances, and about 20 feet of granite countertops, for $3k. i haven’t bought any actual tools–i are not a woodworker/handyman/fix-it person & besides, i also haunt the clearance section at lowe’s –but i’m all about the other stuff. my friends let me know what they’re looking for and i pass along finds to them. it’s a great resource that allows just about anyone to do more for less. hot, hot, hot!

  19. HOT! I purchased a Hitachi table saw that sells new for over $500 for $200 almost new! I also picked up a Router and several bits for an extra $40. Use your common sense. Look at the picture.. Check out the product. If you get burned, its your own fault..

  20. Jon K says:

    HOT!! Last week I missed the following by 10 minutes. The owner was getting out of woodworking and wanted everything gone. He said his phone was ringing off the hook. No doubt!

    Almost new Unisaw with 50″ Biesemeyer fence $375
    Walker Turner Lathe 46″ between centers $125
    Powermatic 14″ bandsaw $115
    Sorby lathe tools $15 each
    Craftsman Radial Arm saw (looked new) $75

  21. Jim says:

    I picked up a near-mint condition 3 year old 9 hp Honda snowblower for $800 through Craigslist. He was asking $950.
    I think they cost around $2000 new?? I had to travel 100 miles to pick it up but well worth it I think.

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